Beyond Salvage - A graphic novel

Dr L.Prakash

 

 

Cover of Tamil Translation of this novel!

A Tamil translation of this novel has been published in August 2009 and has sold 50,000 copies in its first print itself.

 

 

 

Beyond Salvage is the world’s first free, complete, full-length, graphic novel.


This novel was written by Dr L.Prakash in 2008. It is the story of the unnamed hero escaping his home planet after a mega heist; with the galactic security close on tow. This novel came about as an accident. Dr L.Prakash was planning to write a science fiction novella, and as he wrote the story, he felt that it would come out a lot better if it were presented in the form of a graphic novel. A professional artist was commissioned who agreed to do the pictures at 500 Rs a piece (approx 10 $ per picture), and promised deliveries in three months. However at the end of three months, it transpired that the artist had been so busy that he had not found time to do more than ten drawings.


Dr Prakash is no artist and in the fifty one years of his life, had never attempted art. A few drawing books, a couple of ‘How to Draw” books and artists material were procured and over three weeks , three hundred water colors were drawn. A hundred and fifty needed re-drawing and the end result was quite satisfactory at least in the author’s opinion.


GA publications published a Tamil Translation in August 2009, which sold fifty thousand copies in its first print itself.


The print copy of the English version is expected to hit the market in the beginning of 2011. In the meanwhile, for our online readers, the novel is presented herewith. For ease of reading and ultra quick loading, these pages have been done in micro HTML format, and the story is split into six parts.

Please send your valuable comments and suggestions to [email protected]

Wish you a happy reading

 

 

Part One

The distance between my home planet Tryxxop and my destination Xaara was 7.6 billion light years. This would mean that if my spacecraft travelled at the speed of light, it would take seven point six billion years. But the craft was not travelling at the speed of light. It was much faster! Xaara was a semi advanced planet, as far away from home that I could find. Not only was it distant, but was well out of trade routes. I hoped to remain away from the eyes of Galactic Security this way.
The space craft took six months to travel this distance. Three to get out to a vacant point in space, and three to gradually navigate to Xaara. The actual seven point six billion light years distance was covered in an instant, because the ship deployed a faster than light mode: FTL; where time remains static and suspended. It took ninety days at below light speeds both for take off and landing. Lucky first class passengers could of course enjoy the spectacular view from the observatory!

I, of course; was travelling in economy class and would be asleep all the time. The economy class passengers used the STP- Sophoric travel protocol!

An awake person occupies three hundred and sixty times more space that a Sophoric capsule. No wonder, first class travel cost two hundred times economy tickets.

Each economy module had five hundred Sophoric capsules stacked tight, each containing a passenger. The feeding and excretion was through tubes. Individual computers monitored each parameter diligently. STP fatalities were less than half a percent! I could definitely not afford to be a part of this small percentage!

Not that I could not afford first class. But in this, you meet people, leave clues, and are likely o be remembered. I could not afford to leave leads and a trail for Galactic Security to sniff around.
I woke up gradually and found myself facing a Medical Robot with its stupid metallic grin. I tried to move my hands and feet , but found that they were encased in molten lead. Even my eyelids were really heavy!

“Please relax and be patient sir. The Sophoric Recovery Process is almost complete. The body belts will unwrap soon, but please remain in your place, take deep breaths, and compose yourself…..”  

The stupid robot continued to drone in its mechanical voice. I was well aware of the awakening protocols and hardly paid any attention. I was more worried about my body.

Much to the robot’s surprise I sprang out as soon as the belts snapped open. At least I intended to spring out, but it would have appeared as if I was a character in a slow motion satellite video drama!

It seemed as if I was neck deep in loose sand and had to struggle to push my way up and ahead.

“Please sir, don’t hurry! Galactic Space Organization will not be responsible for any damage caused by accidents”

I quickly put my hand behind my back and felt the reassuring knob. I was gradually becoming alert and my limbs had started obeying my commands. Even then I would not know if the modification worked, unless I tried it. And this was certainly not the place.

The android surgeon had guaranteed results. He had also assured that Sophoric capsule travel would not impair or damage my modification in any way!

Though doctor Axumba647 had his clinic in the seedy sector sixteen of Tryxxop, he was well recommended.

No doubt he was a talented fellow. Half machines are better physician-surgeons than humans. The moment he saw my list of modifications, his eye brows almost arched up! “Even the elite forces of Galactic Security don’t have this extensive modifications. What have you done? Who are you running away from?”

There was no way that I could tell him all that. I just asked him a relevant question. “How much would it cost?”

Cyborg faces don’t show much expressions, but mine was zapped. It was almost one fourth of all that I had stolen. But then Axumba647 assured me that he was the best, and best obviously cost money!

I was under anesthetic for thirty two hours. When I woke up, I felt no different from what I previously was. But the Cyborg taught me the tricks. The small button on my back. A complex mental sequence of numbers. And then I would activate. “Would this be affected by capsule travel?” “Absolutely not. Most of my subjects are travelling away in a hurry and that too in economy class!”

But an international spaceport in the city of Xaara was hardly the place to activate, no matter how far away from the trade routes the planet was. I decided to move on. No point wasting any further time!

The robot continued to drone as I walked away in a hurry. The other capsules were open but the passengers were groggy and lethargic.

Disregarding the instructions of the robot, I pushed my octadisk in the slot, for a high protein snack bar.

I was hit by sudden cramps in the belly, but modification does produce powerful changes n the human body. I could do things which most others could not. I chided myself for my over confidence, controlled a spasm and slowly walked out. You should not be over confident! You shall not be in a hurry! You shall not take unnecessary risks. You will stay out of trouble… my mind went into an auto-hypnosis mode.

The baggage carousel started rolling, but I made straight to the exit. I had checked in some junk as baggage, but had no intention of collecting it. I was starting a new life and would buy everything that I required.

My octadisk had sufficient credits. More than sufficient. It had cost about ten percent of my heist to make the money untraceable and convert it into the disk. The elevator brought me to the hover-port. I pulled out a tourist brochure. The city of Xaara was divided into six sectors. A,B,C,D and E. I looked at the prices and was not surprised.

Xara was a C class city, about a third as expensive as my home. Sectors A and B were elite, while E was the slum-shanty bordering the fishing hamlets. I chose sector D, a lower middle class area. I wanted to lie low. The anti gravity hovercraft was piloted by humans! So this planet was over populated and did not depend on robot labor. The cabbie was dressed in tight fitting transverse stripes that seemed to be the local fashion.

I did not want to engage my cabbie in idle conversation. No point in taking chances. The less he remembered of me, the better! The craft took close to three hours. The posh villas on the hillside…..……were a distinct contrast to the slums and shanties beyond the harbor.

This one was an enterprising pub to paint its name on the rooftop.

I walked to the elevator without giving the cabbie a second chance to look at my face.

The bar in the basement was dimly lit and almost empty. The noon was probably not a favorite time for local patrons.
A corner table in darkness. My octadisk slotted in. I punched the numbers for my order.
Six months since I had an alcoholic beverage. I chose something strong. I was surprised at the prices. On my home planet, I would have paid twenty times as much. I had expected a domestic robot to wheel in my order, but was pleasantly surprised to see a pretty smiling human waitress. This planet was either densely overpopulated, or abhorred robotic labor.

“Hi! I an Trixomu1097. Welcome to our pub sailor”

“How did you know that I was a sailor?” “Your clothes, face, even your pronunciation of the galactic standard language, is a tad different”

“Good guess Trixomu! Order a drink for you on my octadisk!”

“Too early in the day for me to start on alcoholic beverages. I will have a soft drink”

“Welcome”

“I wont be able to sit with you though. I will finish in three hours”

I pretended not to understand her invitation. I had just arrived. I stared into my glass and told myself…Be careful. Take each step cautiously. Be wary of strangers. Galactic Security had spies everywhere.
I was being over-reactive and paranoid. After all I had chosen this pub entirely at random. How could Galactic Security plant an operative as a barmaid? Anyway, she said three hours! It did look promising.
I never noticed when he arrived. One minute I was all alone and the next…..
The next instant, he had appeared like a genie materialized out of a lamp.
He was shabby indeed. Stood hesitant, waiting for me to recognize him and offer him a seat.
I was not at all sorry to disappoint him. For that matter, I had absolutely no interest in strangers, shabby men or pretty bartender girls.
I gave a quick look and then busied myself with my glass. I thought that by ignoring him totally he would take a hint and move away. I was surprised when I looked up once again. He was audacious enough to pull the chair and boldly sit down opposite me.
I half got up, when he started speaking. His voice had so much of pleading in it that I did not have a heart to walk away. I slowly relaxed myself into the seat and allowed him to continue his spiel.

Out came a stack of photos. Pretty girls, ugly girls, boys, mutants. Only now I could understand that my uninvited guest was a pimp, broker, and flesh trader.

My sexual appetites are normal, but since Mianca’s death I had become celibate. Small boys, mutants, and deformities did not attract me. It would be unwise to say that I was repelled by them; how could I? Was I myself a hundred percent normal?
By now I had mellowed down and the broker was no longer appearing repulsive. After all he too had to make a living. “Sorry buster. Wrong target. There is nothing with you that interests me.
His hand came out of his pocket with something.
I was no jeweler, but could easily recognize the Yungrzinormontra ruby. The unique volcano ruby, unlike anything else on this earth.
This was indeed an expensive item. Far beyond anything that such a shabby person could possess.
But I was not interested. What use did I have for rubies even if they were the best from Yungrzinormontra? My portadisk had enough and more to buy hundred such rubies!
I was feeling fairly sympathetic towards him and offered him a drink. He thirstily punched his order on the console.
Trixomu did not seem to be pleased by the company that I kept. Her disapproval was clear from the way in which she plonked the glass on the table.
I gave her a patronizing smile. In any case she was neither my girlfriend, nor wife. Three hours- she had said. Time enough for me to get rid of my unwelcome guest and chat her up.

 

Part one -- Part two -- Part three -- Part four -- Part five -- Part six

Please send your comments/ suggestions to [email protected]

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